It is no secret that the Arizona Coyotes have not mastered draft day since arriving in the Valley in 1996. In 2002, they drafted two players in the first round that never played a single game in Sedona Red, Jakub Koreis and Ben Eager. In 2004, they did the same with the selection of Blake Wheeler. In the middle, they didn't even have a first round pick to squander (more on that later this week on FFH).
However, this article is not about the bad picks, it is about the good ones. The FFH crew selected six draft picks who will compete for the title of "Greatest Draft Pick in Coyotes History" based on their Coyotes contributions only.
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Your votes will decide who moves on and ultimately who wins it all. This is the first of a three-part series and you the reader will get to vote on the two quarterfinal match-ups.
Here are the seeds and match-ups:
1. Keith Yandle (2005 4th round pick - 105th overall)
2. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2009 1st round pick - 6th overall)
3. Martin Hanzal (2005 1st round pick - 17th overall)
4. Daniel Briere (1996 1st round pick - 24th overall)
5. Mikkel Boedker (2008 1st round pick - 8th overall)
6. Ossi Vaananen (1998 2nd round pick - 43rd overall)
Hanzal vs. Vaananen
Our first match-up pits the big 6'6" center against the current Helsinki Jokerit captain.
It is hard to believe Hanzal has already played seven full seasons with the Coyotes. In that time, he accumulated 80 goals and 222 points, including 58 PPP. After struggling in the faceoff dot early in his career, Hanzal improved his skills and now sits just over the 50 percent mark for his career.
Hanzal ranks in the average 2C range, but Arizona's constant lack of a No. 1 center has forced Hanzal to not only play top-6 minutes, but often first line minutes.
The Czech forward is a physical player that contributes on the power play and can penalty kill as needed. While he has been a bit injury prone the past four seasons, when he is on the ice, he is more than a half point per game player.
No, you may not buy a vowel.
The 1998 second round pick made his NHL debut at the start of the 2000-01 season, playing 81 games and scoring 16 points while finishing 15th in the Calder race. As a stay-at-home defenseman, Vaananen never put up large point totals, but he did average 19:29 of ice time during his four seasons with the Coyotes. That is equivalent to the average ice time of Derek Morris last season.
Before he was traded to Colorado in 2004, along with Chris Gratton and a second round pick that turned into Paul Stastny (oops), in exchange for Keith Ballard and the aforementioned Morris, Vaananen scored 10 goals and 45 points in 291 games in Phoenix.
Briere vs. Boedker
A couple of talented first round picks face off.
The newly dubbed Phoenix Coyotes made Briere the second selection in its very brief Arizona history when they selected the small center 24th overall in 1996 from the Drummondville Voltigeurs. There were high hopes for the Quebec native after finishing his QMJHL career with 416 points in 198 games and scoring 92 points in his first AHL season. However, Briere scuffled at the NHL level until the 2001-02 season when he tallied 32 goals and 60 points. In 258 games with the Coyotes, Briere potted 70 goals and 146 points before being traded to Buffalo, along with a third round pick, on March 10, 2003 in exchange for Chris Gratton (remember him from above?) and a fourth rounder.
While the center's best years came in the handful of years after the trade, his final two seasons in Phoenix made him an impact player.
It sure took a while, but the young Dane finally developed into the bonafide top-6 forward the Coyotes hoped he would be when they selected him 8th overall in 2008. Things began to come together for Boedker during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, when he scored 26 points in 48 games. He built upon that success last season, setting new career highs across the board.
Boedker is as durable as they come, playing every single game over the past three seasons.
In 338 NHL games, Boedker has 53 goals and 146 points. The 24-year-old has just started his ascension and should be given a bit of a bonus in this tournament for potential.
So loyal readers, who do you think were the better choices? Vote now!